No relationship will be perfect; and how to successfully interact your lover cannot be worked out in advance. Yes, you can learn basic communication techniques, build your self-esteem, and develop patterns for healthy, equal, balanced loving before you get together -- and all of these will make your relationship, when you do find it, much more successful. But, because you are unique, and so is your partner, what works for the two of you must be developed on-the-spot. The only way I know to do this is through experience, communication and negotiation.
If you understand that your relationship, to be successful, must be healthy and satisfying for both you and your partner, you will also understand that codependently putting your partners feelings, needs and wants before your own is as harmful as compulsively putting your wants, needs and feelings before your lover's.
Through focusing on solving issues and problems together, through honest and open communication, you can learn to achieve a balance. That is, you can work together to make sure both of you get your needs and wants met, and you can both care equally about your mutual satisfaction, health and happiness.
Any other definition of love tends to degenerate into dysfunction and codependency, and will become toxic to you and your lover. Finding out if solutions are mutually satisfactory is easy-- you ask each other how it feels and whether it’s working. Beginning your relationship with this idea in mind, or renewing an existing relationship on this basis, is much easier and more pleasant than you may believe. I invite you to consciously move your focus from who's at fault to what will fix the problem, and to increase the mutuality and communication in your relationship, and watch whatever dysfunctional interaction you have, whether mild or severe, be significantly reduced. You can do this with relationships at home, with your parents, your children, your siblings, and even with friends and co-workers.
©2008 Tina B. Tessina adapted from: Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Squabbling About the Three Things That Can Destroy Your Marriage (Adams Media) ISBN# 978-1-59869-325-6